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Fifth prep school to shut after funding cut

By Rebecca Black

Published 29/01/2016

A preparatory department of a grammar school is to shut this summer - the fifth since former Education Minister Caitriona Ruane slashed funding for the sector. Stock image
A preparatory department of a grammar school is to shut this summer - the fifth since former Education Minister Caitriona Ruane slashed funding for the sector. Stock image

A preparatory department of a grammar school is to shut this summer - the fifth since former Education Minister Caitriona Ruane slashed funding for the sector.

Glenlola School's Cygnet House in Bangor is expected to close its doors at the end of August.

Enrolment has fallen at Cygnet House in recent years, and it had just 65 pupils last year.

Four prep schools have shut since Ms Ruane cut funding by a third. Previously, such schools received £800 per pupil, much less than the £2,000 paid for each primary school child.

This forced a lot of preps to increase fees, with many now charging up to £4,500 per pupil.

The four to close were those linked to Bloomfield Collegiate, Bangor Grammar, Dalriada and Down High.

Glenlola principal Eric Thompson said the closure of Bangor Grammar's prep school Connor House generated substantial anxiety for parents with kids at Cygnet House.

"Many felt torn at that time, and although the majority decided to stay, a number decided they would find places for their children in larger primary schools," he said.

"Since then the board of governors has worked tirelessly with a group of supportive parents to build up the enrolment of the school, and had until recently done this with some success.

"However, with a large P7 group leaving and a smaller P1 group due to join, concerns regarding numbers resulted in a number of parents moving to larger primary schools. This intensified the anxieties of parents who remained, and in a very short space of time the number of pupils had fallen to a level that brought the school's sustainability into question."

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